Dispelling Food Myths

By Kim Lowman
Wellness Program Manager

If you are anything like me, you have tried all the short cuts to get to your ideal image of what you want to look like. You drank liters of Diet Pepsi, replaced solid foods with Slimfast, or bought into the Atkins Diet, eating all fats and no carbs. Despite your efforts, none of it seemed to work. Why? Because it’s unreasonable to think that eliminating an entire food group—or worse eating only from a specific food group—would be possible to maintain for life. Unless you are a dedicated vegan or diagnosed with celiac….you can enjoy all foods. But here are the important words….only in moderation. You are what you eat and the massive food industry has tricked you into thinking that the cereal with the leprechauns will bring you good luck. It’s magically delicious until your blood sugars spike and crash and you need a nap at 10 a.m. But enough about my morning—let’s dispel some myths.

Myth #1: Carbs cause weight gain. WRONG! Carbohydrates are energy and without them you will be tired, cranky, and possibly depressed and any weight you may lose will just be water weight. Carbs are tricky, because there are two kinds. Whole grain breads, oats, quinoa, brown rice, and sweet potatoes are all complex carbs, which means they have nutritional value and won’t spike up your sugar levels leading to that inevitable sugar crash. Simple carbs like cookies, cakes, some types of crackers, candy, white pasta, and some breads are the carbs to avoid. Forever? No. But you do need to be mindful that those kinds of carbs are not adding nutritional value and can cause mood swings and lethargy. And don’t fall for the biggest trick of all…believing that the instant oatmeal that has had sugars and preservatives added to it is healthy for you.

Myth #2: Fat makes you fat. NOPE! Not true at all. Healthy fats like avocado, nuts, olive oil, salmon, and hummus will actually keep you full longer and help control the need for the unhealthy snacks we reach for when our energy dips. We need the healthy fats to support our metabolism and also to keep healthy moods. The other fats known as saturated are not healthy and can eventually contribute to medical conditions. What types of fats are these? Animal fats or oils that you find with pizza or fried foods. If you are sticking to the proper proportions and only splurge once in a while, you’ll be just fine. Cook with olive oil or avocado oil in place of vegetable oils or lards. Remember Crisco? My grandfather called me Crisco… for real… because I was ‘fat in the can.” No joke. True story. Anyway—throw it away. Use applesauce instead when baking.

Myth #3: Avoid meat. WHY? Unless it’s a conscience choice, meats are valuable sources of protein and vitamins. Lean cuts in correct proportions (think of a deck of cards) will help keep your muscles stronger and belly fuller. Trim excess fats and be careful with the sauces and marinades you use because some of them are high in sugars or fats (gravy). But once again—everything in moderation.

Myth #4: Tons of fruit is better for you. FALSE! Fruits are high in natural sugars but sugar is sugar is sugar. Choose berries and fibrous fruits like apples and bananas. Look up a portion size. You’ll be shocked. A banana is 2 servings. Fruit has tons of nutritional value but too much of a good thing can reverse the goal. Moderation!

Myth #5: Veggies are free foods. TRUE! You can’t go wrong with a plate full of colorful veggies. Oh sure there are some veggies with less value like corn but frankly if you replace a cookie with a serving of corn then you’re way ahead of the game nutritionally.

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